ReSPECT the process and talk early

Tony Goring, Project Manager on the Patient Safety Collaborative at the West of England AHSN reflects on a conversation with student paramedics on the day ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment) rolls out across parts of the West of England.

As ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment) launched across parts of the West of England today (10 October 2019), I had the absolute pleasure of meeting 50 student paramedics at The University of West of England’s Glenside Campus.

I spoke to this group of young and enthusiastic second year second students about the benefits a ReSPECT form provides for patient outcomes and for families. One question put to me by a student focussed on their concern that patient family members might be in opposition to the preferences that have been recorded on the ReSPECT form. To this I asked whether the benefit of having conversations much earlier in a patients’ prognosis would help patients’ families support a decision made by the patient in consultation with their doctor or specialist.

The group came to a consensus that earlier conversations around health and treatment preferences would enable patients and their families to have much broader conversations on other matters pertinent to end of life planning, and make it easier to support their loved one’s preferences. It was also agreed that having all family members made aware of the preferences made by their loved one on a ReSPECT form would help the best decisions to be made in the event of an emergency. A colleague of mine, from a paramedic background, often says that, ‘having something to help make a clinical decision in an emergency is far better than nothing at all’.

Hopefully the hour I spent with them this morning provided the students with a greater understanding of the ReSPECT process, probably more than the vast majority of their paramedic colleagues working in the field today.  It was great to help them get ‘ahead of the game’.

I left them with a few words from  another colleague who had recently had a conversation around end of life care and treatment preferences with a family member. He said that, following discussions with his wife and mother-in-law, he could honestly say that talking about health and treatment preferences ‘made all the relatives feel better and allowed us to talk more openly’.

For more information on the ReSPECT process and the adoption of ReSPECT in the West of England, visit

Posted on October 10, 2019 by Tony Goring, Project Manager, West of England AHSN

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